I don't know if it is my age but time really does seem to be flying past these days. This month marked the first anniversary of the election where we were voted in to lead the Council on behalf of the people of West Dunbartonshire. We began our administration with a desire to make the most of every single day we had to improve things for local people and businesses, and I hope that you will agree we have been active and decisive over the past 12 months.
It would be easy to fill the rest of this column with a list of the positive things we have done - and I often like to remind colleagues in the Council chamber - but I will instead highlight a few key events. Twelve months ago this Council had no plans to build new primary schools at Aitkenbar and St Peter's, or revamp the latter's Early Education and Childcare Centre (EECC), or build a new Kilpatrick Secondary School. A new secondary school for Our Lady in St Patrick's was not under consideration, and there was no ambition to build modern care homes to better support and care for our elderly residents. Tenants were still concerned about the possibility of being evicted over rent arrears, and thousands were concerned over who their landlord might be due to the uncertainty caused by the Partial Stock Transfer Process. All these matters have been dealt with by this Council and I'm delighted with the progress that has been made.
Of course the most important audience is you - the residents of West Dunbartonshire. With that in mind it was pleasing that the recent telephone satisfaction survey with local people showed the majority of those interviewed were happy with Council services. This was particularly so in the case of key services that you most depend upon such as waste collection, schools, social work, libraries, customer services and registrars. This high-quality service delivery was further backed up by the annual review of the Council by Audit Scotland who scrutinise local Councils on behalf of the Scottish Government. Their independent report said the Council was making 'good progress and demonstrating its commitment to continuous improvement'. This is a huge leap forward from the dark old days several years ago when this Council was rightly challenged as an organisation that was underperforming across the board.
This opportunity to influence the future of this area really motivates me to work hard on your behalf, but what also inspires me is the fantastic people I meet in my role as Leader of West Dunbartonshire Council. A great example of this was the privilege I had in being present at the ceremony to celebrate the 2013 Citizen of the Year awards. Jack Tasker, a former Clyde Shipbuilder's trade unionist, was recognised for his dedication to Clydebank, as a Justice of the Peace, church elder, as well as his trade union work. Elaine Neeson, from Dumbarton was nominated for her work with disabled children, which culminates each year in a trip to Lourdes. Sandra Riley, the owner of Sandra's Caf� in Alexandria, is a founder member of the Vale of Leven Autistic and Asperger's Forum, and often lets the group use her caf� free of charge. My congratulations to all three of you on a fabulous lifetime of commitment and good work in the local community.